Published on March 26th, 2015 | by Todd Smekens1
Mounds Lake Proposal Not Ready for a Commission
NEWS – Opponents of the Mounds Lake Reservoir breathed easier since the Delaware County Council chose not to vote on joining the Mounds Lake Commission during this weeks ordinary council meeting. From what we’ve been told, the lawyers are determining the actual consequences for Delaware County should they vote no, and clarifying what kind of commitment they actually make if they vote, yes. We certainly appreciate them being cautious.
However, based on the evidence put forward by the Anderson Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), or lack of evidence, we believe convening a commission to commit time and resources is foolhardy.
In order for this project to even be considered, the project director was required to prove there was a water shortage in East Central Indiana. In all the forums we’ve attended and reading the two environmental/feasibility studies prepared for this water collection scheme, there is no proof of a water shortage now, or in the foreseeable future.
Based on a forum conducted by the League of Women Voters, the engineers pointed out there is an abundance of groundwater in East Central Indiana to meet any future water needs. In fact, Citizens Water already looked into the future and a reservoir was a third or fourth option because of the cost and environmental infringement.
Ball State had their own experts review the feasibility study and they had “serious problems” with several areas of the report. According to the local newspaper, “Among the problems found by Ball State professors and experts:
A “clear lack of understanding” about the geological issues that would be involved in such a huge undertaking, including the possibility of underlying karst — limestone dissolution including sinkholes and caves — that could “contribute to additional below-dam seepage and cost overruns.”
Ball State’s peer review also noted the lack of evidence of a water shortage citing, “Even with a large-scale commercial customer, residential water demand does not appear to justify this investment,” the financial section of the studies notes. “The determination that the Mounds Lake is financially feasible is, at best, premature.”
Environmentalists are opposed to the project because it will cause damage to the archeological sites surrounding Mounds State Park, as well as the vast Mounds Fen which took nature thousands of years to create. The Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) has actually proposed an alternative recreational plan, called the Mounds Greenway, which includes running the White River Greenway west all the way to Downtown Anderson opening up miles of potential economic development along the river without damaging any of the natural surroundings.
If the AEDC and Indiana are interested in bringing recreation to East Central Indiana, the HEC proposal is a more desirable alternative.
The Delaware County Health Board urged the County Council to vote no on the proposal as we pointed out on Muncie Voice’s Facebook page.
What does the proverbial “public will” mean in Indiana? Let’s see…when the “public will” ousted Tony Bennett as…
According to the Star Press article, the four primary flaws the Delaware County Health Board found are:
- The reservoir would put us in a ‘big funnel,’ causing water to back up, raising the water table and altering the agricultural drainage systems.
- The proposed reservoir could inundate several industrial toxic dumpsites and abandoned landfills that predate the EPA’s ruling, thus lowering the quality of the water downstream from them.”
- If the water in the proposed reservoir becomes chlorinated, the resulting water combined with organic materials and sunlight could lead to carcinogenic organophosphates.”
- The proposed reservoir could increase breeding ground for mosquitoes, increasing the risk for West Nile Virus and other mosquito-related infections.”
Before spending $600 thousand in taxpayer dollars, the AEDC and our state should have proven a water shortage, and then offered this proposal along with other viable alternatives, such as the groundwater collection methods.
Instead, they’re proposing a “solution” to a nonexistent problem.
For most residents in East Central Indiana, this raises red flags. You have cynical taxpayers who’ve witnessed countless public/private boondoggles in Indiana where a few people got very rich while Hoosier taxpayers were handed the bills.
Don’t forget, through eminent domain, the proposed commission would remove thousands of acres of tax producing properties from property tax rolls. Therefore, having a buyer for the water is paramount for this project, but nobody will be buying water they don’t need. Not having a buyer for the water means a smaller number of taxpayers will be paying the bonds issued to build the project.
The burden of proof (feasibility) was placed on the proponents (AEDC). They were given $600 thousand to complete studies which show taxpayers this is a worthy project to pursue. They’ve failed at this mission. As a result, their studies raise even more red flags about what the true purpose is for this water scheme – it’s not about providing a large supply of water for potential customers.
So, what is the real purpose of damming the White River? Recreation? Development of high-priced homes? Selling water to Nestle?
Before taxpayers are asked to join this public/private development scheme, they deserve the right to know the true motivation for damming the river so they can make an informed decision about whether they want to join the developers, or turn it down.